REVIEW: Legends of Tomorrow, S3E14 – Amazing Grace

Legends of Tomorrow has been a fun and rollicking ride this season, so it’s a shame that “Amazing Grace” can’t quite keep up. The Elvis-inspired hour isn’t bad, per se, but it’s missing some of the spark that has set the bar so high recently. A cursed guitar makes for rather silly premise, and combining it with the spirit of Elvis’ dead twin brother (who in real life was tragically stillborn) doesn’t really make it more poignant. Instead several aspects of the Elvis plot border on disrespectful in a way that’s very unlike the show’s usual fair, and while Luke Bilyk is a charming actor, he’s far from the best Presley impersonator out there. But let’s get right to the heart of this musical episode already!

Amaya may not love Nate’s music, but he loves his… everything else?

“Amazing Grace” contains several character beats, but a few of them fall flat. For example, Mick’s (Dominic Purcell) understandable fear of change is reflected by his pet rat Axl – who dies in the course of the episode after being renamed Josh Groban and receives a heartfelt funeral courtesy of Ray (Brandon Routh). Whether the rat was in Legends of Tomorrow enough to warrant so much melodrama of his passing is less important than how it’s used to develop his personal story, and the answer is not particularly well. There was an opportunity to connect the change he’s experiencing to the loss of Stein or Snart, but instead it’s mostly used for a few ghost jokes.

Elvis’ haunted guitar must be taken from him so that it doesn’t drive him crazy, and Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) takes care of that in a flash. But Nate (Nick Zano) wants to make sure rock and roll doesn’t die in its infancy, so he and Amaya (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) bring him back a fake. The date night story between the two lovebirds was sweet, but it was overshadowed by the strangeness of a story in which Elvis can’t play music without a particular guitar. Not to mention that is seems rather out of character for Amaya to be so gung-ho about skipping missions to make heart eyes, no matter how in love with Nate she is. Meanwhile, Sara (Caity Lotz) and Ray have to fight off Jessie Presley’s spirit on the Waverider – but events proceed with less flair than usual.

Slow out here for a speedster.

There’s even a subplot with Elvis’ evangelical uncle not wanting him to play anything other than church music, but it doesn’t come together until Wally takes Zari’s (Tala Ashe) advice to slow down a moment and actually try to connect with the man. He shares his struggles when it comes to connecting with family members, specifically his father Joe, which works very well for “Amazing Grace” but feels like it skips a few story beats from The FlashNevertheless, his excited dancing with Zari after the uncle reluctantly lets Elvis’ record reach the radio station is a wonderful thing to witness.

Nate’s speech about music lasting beyond death is also heartfelt, and it touches the core of Legends of Tomorrow more than almost everything else in the episode, but unfortunately it leads to Elvis’s death totem-inspired music literally raising the dead. There is a sweet sentiment in there about the dead merely wanting acknowledgement, but it’s mostly lost in a slapstick Ghostbusters-style sequence. The rendition of “Amazing Grace” saves the ghost portion of events, however, and by the end of the episode Elvis knows that his music will carry on even without the totem or his brother.

So now the Legends have three of the totems out of the six they need, but their journey to obtain it lacked much of the wonder and urgency that previous episodes had in spades. That being said, next week looks like yet another excellent entry into the third season.

Legends of Tomorrow airs Mondays at 8/7c on the CW.